PART 9: SPOT METERING VS: MULTI-POINT METERING

UNDERSTANDING YOUR LIGHT METER IN YOUR CAMERA:

Now, I know you thought that maybe I had covered everything you should know about your camera, but there is a couple of things still I want to cover before we get to the fun part of composition and learning how to become an artist and apply all the things you have learned so far.  

You live in a day where your camera is designed with many great things to help you take the most incredible photos without much effort on your part.  But, I hope that one thing you will discover through all these training blogs, and training information thrown at you at this time, is that if you totally rely on your camera to give you a perfect picture every time, you will certainly be disappointed.   I remember when I worked in the “photo store” and people would come into my store seeking answers as to why their camera did not give them the perfect photo.  And I told them their camera was working perfect, and it was the operator not knowing everything about what their camera was doing.  So, here is one more thing to learn about so that you can have all the tools to make your photos perfect. 

THE LIGHT METER:

First of all, to make sure you understand how light meters work, all camera manufactures have come up with a reference point in which to make all the exposures perfect.  The perfect color balance.  That calibration color is what they call:  18% grey. 

grey card 1

If you go into a camera store, not a cheap store like Walmart or Target (sorry, not trying to be mean here), but someplace that really knows photography, and ask to see an 18% grey card, they will know what you are talking about.  The way to get a perfect exposure every time is for you to take a light meter reading with the light that you have, with the grey card.  

grey card
You will always get a perfect exposure if you use a grey card.

Once you have a light meter reading, using the grey card, then you take the photo, and you will have a perfectly exposed photo.  You know you have to do this in manual mode to do this.  If you take it in automatic mode, then it won’t work.  Unless you have some way to lock the exposure, once you have taken the exposure reading. You will be amazed at how perfect your pictures are using this concept.  You will often see professional photographers still use a grey card to this day.  They want their photos to be perfect.  No second guesses.  

 

In most DSLR cameras you have 2, 3, maybe 4 different types of light meters available to use.  Let’s take a look at the different types of light meter modes that you have, so you can understand why, and what you would use them for.

THE MATRIX OR EVALUATIVE or MULTI-POINT METERING SYSTEM:

Some camera manufactures will call it their “matrix” metering system.  Others may call it their “evaluative” metering system, while others may call it their “multi-point” metering system.  In general they all kind of work the same, and they are all very brilliant.  I marvel each time I have my camera set on this especially when taking pictures of a group of people, because all those little dots are each their own little light meter taking a light meter reading, evaluating the reading, feeding that information into the computer of the camera, and setting the cameras automatic mode to the perfect exposure of the reading between all the different readings it got from all those different points.  In my camera, you will see little lights, light up on each person’s face, so you know it senses what it thinks is the subject.   But, as you will notice in the two photos above, that it is not perfect, as neither one of those photos turned out right.  On the left, who is that person?  And on the right, who is that person?  The meter took readings of all the points around the person, and thought that those points were as important as the subject.  The camera does not know any better.  And that is why you need to have a “spot Meter”.

THE SPOT METER:

spot meter
The perfect exposure:  the spot meter

That little red dot gives you an idea of just how much area the spot meter is taking the light meter reading.  It is so precise that it will not even care about anything else around that area.  Boom, it is that area, and nothing else.  Is it always the perfect one?  NO.  

CENTER WEIGHTED MODE OR PARTIAL MODE: 

partial meter example

Partial metering mode is somewhat like a spot meter, but just covers a larger area.  I find it especially a good one to use with portraits:

center weighted photo

Here, with center weighted metering, you would get a larger portion metered of the person without including so much of the background.  I do not need to get just a spot meter reading of an eyeball, which is what you would get with a spot meter.  A spot meter may be used more when contrast is so dynamic in your frame.  

SO WHY USE MATRIX OR EVALUATIVE (MULTI-POINT METERING)?

 

metering types

Multi-point metering is everyone’s version of AI ( Artificial intelligence).  This is the new world of smart cameras, and if you want my opinion of this type of metering, well, I find it amazing.  

CoLa60180-E023_edited

Imagine pointing your camera at a sunset, and the camera knows it is a sunset, and gives you the most perfect, beautiful sunset you have ever taken.  No adjustments was needed on this photo above.  That is shot on “evaluative metering”.  

20161114_140304-1499094663676

This photo was also taken with the metering system in the “evaluative metering” mode.  Colors are rich, and exposure right on.  

img117
shot with the meter set at “‘partial metering”.

 

SO, WHEN TO KNOW WHICH TYPES OF METERING TO USE:

  • WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SUBJECT IN YOUR PHOTO, AND MAKE SURE THAT IS WHAT IS PERFECTLY EXPOSED.
  • IS YOUR ENTIRE FRAME AND ALL THE SUBJECT MATERIAL SEEM TO BE ABOUT THE SAME EXPOSURE (OR NO CONTRAST TO THE PICTURE)?
  • REMEMBER CONTRAST PLAYS A BIG PART IN WHAT COMES OUT RIGHT IN YOUR EXPOSURE.  WHAT DO YOU WANT EXPOSED CORRECTLY.
  • ALL LIGHT METERS, REGARDLESS OF TYPE, THINKS THAT IT HAS EQUAL GREY IN COLOR.  IF YOUR SUBJECT IS LIGHT OR DARK, DON’T USE THAT AS A METER READING.  REMEMBER YOUR CAMERA METER IS CALIBRATED TO 18% GREY.
  • AND ALSO REMEMBER THAT TO GET GOOD WITH METERING AND LEARNING THE DIFFERENT STYLES WILL TAKE SOME PRACTICE.  DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF THEY DON’T COME OUT.  IF YOU ARE USING A DIGITAL CAMERA, AND IT DOESN’T COME OUT, DELETE IT AND TRY AGAIN USING A DIFFERENT TYPE OF METERING SYSTEM.

 

img014

Hope this has helped you to understand light meters and how the camera’s metering system works.  Seems complicated, but, I hope I explained it in a way you will understand it.  There is a place for questions or comments at the bottom of this blog if you need further information.

 

img080

PART 8: UNDERSTANDING SHUTTER SPEEDS !

FAST SHUTTER SPEEDS, SLOW SHUTTER SPEEDS, WHEN AND HOW TO USE THEM:

We just spent some serious time on depth of field, and how you use depth of field in your creative photography.  So many photographers use depth of field for many things.  

Now, we are going to cover how to use shutter speeds for your creative ideas.  Some photographers use shutter speeds as their main source of creative photography, not paying much attention to what the depth of field does in their photos.  So, this is always a “catch 22” in photography.  

Let’s get into the mechanics first of what happens when you control your shutter speeds:

  • Fast shutter speeds, 1/500th of a second and faster, will stop action, and often “freeze” the action of your subjects.
  • Slow shutter speeds, 1/60th of a second and slower, will blur the motion of your subject.

Let’s look at the reason why you would want to do both:

 

ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY:

Sports photography is one of the main uses of fast shutter speeds:

golf-960x641
NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/3.2

Notice the fast shutter speed used, just to get the golfer used, and the f-stop:  1/1250 of a second.  And the f-stop is at f3.2.  Did you notice that the background of the subject is blurred out.  That is because the depth of field is so narrow (see previous blogs on depth of field).  And see how the fast shutter speed, stopped the action.

hockey-960x641
NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 2000, 1/1000, f/2.8

Here again, this one is even harder because this is shot inside, but, it is well lit.  Shutter speed is at 1/1000 of a second.  The f-stop at f2.8.  To help out so he could get that kind of setting, notice that the ISO was set at 2000.  Most likely because the photographer was inside a building and didn’t have the bright sunlight, but did this to help him get the shutter speed he wanted to use.

soccer1-960x641
NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/1600, f/2.8

One more:  shutter speed at 1/1600 of a second,  and the f-stop at f2.8 (blurs the background), and the ISO setting is somewhat normal at 400.  Notice on all of these action photos there is just no blur at all in these action photos.

 

BLURRING THE PHOTOS ON PURPOSE:

Many years ago, I worked as a store manager in a photo store, and was able to work with many types of photography.  I got to know photography so well, you could probably ask me any question of how to do certain photography, and I could tell you exactly how to accomplish the type of photos you wanted to achieve. One day, a man walked into my store, and he said he just retired from working as a forest ranger, and now wanted to spend most of his time taking pictures of the natural beauty in the mountains that he was able to work in, but, never could because he was always on duty.  So, with that, we made sure he had all the right equipment and sent him on his way.  Then he came back after a few hikes, and said he wanted to make his streams and rivers look more soft and blurry, or make the water more “dreamy”.  And asked how to do that in the middle of the day.  So, I sold him a good tripod, showed him how to use slower shutter speeds, neutral density filters, and he became the artist he wanted to be.   He moved away to another state later in life, passed away and I never did get a hold of his photos.  But,  I saw his photos that he was taking and they were definitely worthy of any exhibit anywhere, and he was selling some of his photos in the range of $250 to $1000 per picture the last time I saw him.  These types of photos are what people love to look at.  They make scenery look more beautiful than ever.  So, with that, I am going to present to you, a collection of great photos I have seen recently of “long exposure photography” that will make you just want to go out and do it yourself, and add it to your collection as well.  I hope more than anything, you will be inspired to try it yourself.

long 1
Photo by Duarte Sol Photography;  Not sure exactly of exposure settings, but, my guess is that this is around 1 second, ISO 100, and the F-stop at F-16

As mentioned in a previous blog, this type of exposure cannot be done successfully without one piece of valuable equipment:  THE TRIPOD.  In my blog about exposure control, it was mentioned that you really should not try to do any photo at a shutter speed slower than 1/60th of a second.  So, with this above photo, it was done at a full second, you can imagine that the photo would be terrible without a tripod.

Also, notice that the only thing that is blurry is the water, that moves.   Let’s look at one more photo to give you a good idea of how to control blur on water:

long 2
Photo by Duarte Sol Photography

Even though this is a black and white photo, imagine here now, how you can take the waves of the ocean, and make them look almost “cloud-like”.  I know Duarte Sol, and he takes a lot of photos this way.  I am not sure again, the amount of the exposure, but this is much longer than 1 second.  With the use of a neutral density filter ( and we will spend some time on filters in a future blog), so he could cut the exposure time even longer, I am guessing that this exposure was longer than 10 seconds.  Isn’t that an amazing photo?

When I first started checking out all the different photos of “long Exposure”
Photos, I have to admit, I was surprised at the different types of 
Long exposure photos there were.  They are not just water photos, there are 
many different other ways to take long exposure photos.  And as 
you go through this gallery of photos, I tried to find a variety of different
types of long exposure photos, and of course, all of them are just incredible.
I think they bring out some of the mysteries of the world, in some cases.  So, 
please, don’t stop until you have seen them all. :
long 3
Picture of the day by NASA.  Photo Credit:  Michael Goh
This is a picture of the Milky way over the Pinnacles in 
Australia.

To take photos of stars, especially like the above photo, takes a special lens, and being in the right place where there is no “dirty air” to get this type of photo.  You can generally get a photo like this in about 1 to 2 minutes, but, you have to practice this one for sure, and be way out away from the city.

 

long 10
Photo Credit: Paul Scearce Photography
Note:  Put your camera up on the tripod, and get a good vantage point 
of your city, and it becomes lovely again, right?

 

 

 

long 14
Photo Credit:  Sean Allott
Note:  This is not an easy one to do.  But, takes practice to get this one.  But, isn’t that magnificent.  But, that
is a series of one long exposure, with the flash going off 3 times while the dancer moves through 
the field of view.  Great job.

 

The above photo is just an example of one of the things you can do with a slow shutter speed, but requires certain skill for sure.  I am not going to tell you how to accomplish this type of picture, just note that it requires some flash work, and a lot of practice to get it right.   The details are really captured underneath the  photo.  You just have to practice that, and have the right equipment.

So, that completes the subject of how to use your camera for different shutter speed settings.

We have now covered:  Aperture settings, ISO settings, and now shutter speed settings.  Are you excited to find out what I will cover next?  Read on the next blog and see.

 

img080

 

 

 

OLD IRONSIDES

CotLa6166-E017_1
Photo by Lanny Cottrell